The Ohio Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA Ohio) recently announced the winners of the 2022 Ohio APA Great Places awards. The biennial awards program honors outstanding physical spaces that planners have made permanent through careful planning and unbridled imagination in Ohio.
Winners include: Downtown Willoughby, Jackson Street Pier and Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve.
According to a release by APA, Historic Downtown Willoughby is a beautiful, quaint and charming neighborhood and even goes by the nickname of the “Courtesy City” was listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 for its commerce and architectural significance from the 1850s to the 1940s. Downtown Willoughby now is a bustling, eclectic community with something to offer everyone who lives, works and plays in the area. Unique characteristics: There are over 65 buildings and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These buildings range from Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate and Classical Revival styles. Today, they serve as boutiques and shops, restaurants, churches, coffee shops, bars, bed and breakfasts and residential homes. But, it is said that the spirits of Downtown Willoughby’s past still occupy these buildings and streets. Besides ghosts and historic buildings, the neighborhood offers plenty of outdoor public green spaces.
With Downtown Willoughby being considered a Historic District, the City of Willoughby follows
strict planning initiatives to protect the historic integrity of the neighborhood. The City of
Willoughby provides detailed design guidelines that must be followed in the historic downtown
district. These guidelines include everything from rehabilitating windows, walls, paint,
foundations to demolition and new construction. With these standards, Downtown Willoughby is
able to keep a concise and historically accurate look. Downtown Willoughby’s distinctive
character and charm help attract events, business and visitors from all over Northeast Ohio. The
small-town feel and planning initiatives that support that are what make this place so great. The
city also provides the parks and streets with fresh flowers in the spring and summer, creating
barriers between the streets and sidewalks. This helps make the town not only look beautiful,
but encourages a safe and walkable neighborhood.
The applications were reviewed and scored by members of the Awards Committee of the Ohio
APA Board. They evaluated the nominations based on the following criteria:
● Character, personality of place
● Uniqueness of the place
● Special history
● How the space is used
● Planning initiative
● Visual attributes through photographs
APA Ohio is a statewide, non-profit association of citizens and professional planners committed to
promoting and enhancing planning and the quality of planning for all governmental entities in order to
maintain and improve the quality of life for all Ohioans.